Thursday, January 11, 2007
In Heaven the primary reward is entering the eternal Beatitude, which means contemplating the Face of our Father (said in anthropomorphic terms). To use a human parallel, it is like a mother watching her sleeping child's beautiful face or a lover contemplating his beloved. The lover never gets tired of gazing at his beloved. He is forever finding new perspectives and delights in his beloved's face. A new angle of how the light hits his beloved's nose, how adorable that wrinkle is, etc. In the same way but on a deeper level in Heaven all the saints and angels are contemplating the Father. And each is getting different insights and unique joys. And none ever get tired or bored because an eternity is not enough to exhaust the mysteries of the Face of our Father who Art in Heaven. And in addition, since human history is still being played out here and there is such a thing as the communion of saints, our Father is communicating to His saints and angels individually what they need to know about what's happening on Earth. The saints in their blissful contemplation are made aware through our Father about news of their loved ones on Earth (called the Church Militant), prayers involving them, and our Father's Divine Will concerning them. (Thinking this part through finally put to rest for me the fear of being spied upon by angels and saints when I am in awkward situations and also explains to me how a saint in Heaven can hear all our prayers without being omniscient. They're not looking directly at us, they only see what our Father reveals to them about us.)
So I have a mental image of our Father--unfortunately the best I can do is picture the crystal ball the witch used in The Wizard of Oz made large and beautiful--being surrounded by and gazed at by hordes of saints and angels in their different ranks. All the saints and angels have a look of bliss, but with different degrees of joy and sorrow, which is to emphasize that they are getting individualized impressions and messages from the our Father's beautiful Face.
If I could draw this I would not depict our Father both because of my restricted mental conception and also for it to symbolize that only the saints and angels in Heaven get to see Him, I'd place something in front of Him to obstruct our view and just show the ranks of saints and angels. I'd place this image in the top half of my painting separated by clouds to symbolize Heaven. Then I'd also include in the drawing the Figure of Jesus Christ standing a little bit apart to symbolize that He is seated at the right Hand of the Father. I might protray Jesus looking kind of like Janus, to symbolize His dual nature so His Divine Nature can contemplate our Father while His Human Nature is looking down at us through a break in the clouds. Or I might cleverly contrive to place Jesus at an angle so that it looks like He is both contemplating our Father and looking down at us at the same time. Then Jesus's gaze downward could lead to a group of Christians standing in a circle contemplating Christ on a giant crucifix. The scene on Earth would directly parallel the scene in Heaven. The expressions on the faces of these Christians would then--like the faces of the saints and angels in Heaven--all show bliss, but with differing degrees of sorrow and joy and understanding. I'd depict the Holy Spirit as a dove hovering above the crucifix and the Christians and below Jesus at the halfway point.
I can think of many things to make this picture interesting, such as showing non-Christians going about their business in a bazaar and depicting Hell further down where people are morosely looking at their feet and or looking with hate and snarling at each other or something. They would not be standing in a circle but in disarray.
My theological insight conveyed by this image?
That Christians are uniquely privileged to have the ability to receive a foretaste of our true joy in Heaven, entering our eternal Beatitude, by contemplating Jesus Christ. While we have yet to attain to Heaven, but even now we can contemplate Jesus, whether on the cross, in the gospel, in prayer, in the Holy Sacrifice of Mass, in the faces of other people, etc. And since Jesus is our Mediator to God the Father, our contemplation goes both ways. While we are contemplating Jesus, He is contemplating us! (we are His beloveds), and through the inspirations of the Holy Spirit is thereby communicating the Divine Will of the Father to us. We are not worthy to know the Father right now, but we may get to know His Will for us through our Mediator, our Lord Jesus Christ.
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